The key point is that all decisions are made by doctors. And according to criteria completely different from those usually found in the economic unit of a large company.
There are a lot of nuances in health services software development. In addition, doctors are much more autonomous and independent in their decisions than managers in production. If the general director of the plant issued an order “all shops to work in the IT system,” then they will work in it for sure. But if the doctor was instructed to work in some application, he may say: “I don’t have time for this”. And they will not work. And for him, helping the sick is an absolute priority. The only truly effective way to convince a doctor to apply a solution is to show him that it will make the patients better. It’s not that simple, but we’ll talk about it later.
Healthcare as an industry is characterized by huge transaction costs for the sale. And here is the promotion of goods and services. It is precisely because doctors make decisions about the use of these products or services. Therefore, there is only one successful sales model in healthcare. It is implemented by companies producing pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, and consumables. It is as follows. If a company wants to start selling its product to healthcare, it must first convince doctors that its product helps treat patients, is safe for them, and is convenient for doctors and nurses. To do this, she turns to the so-called opinion leaders, or key opinion leader. This term is used to refer to the most reputable medical practitioners, gurus in a particular field of medicine. it’s in oncology, cardiology, radiology, or any other. Through them, the company works with groups of doctors – with medical associations, clinics, departments of medical institutes, health authorities.
After doctors are convinced that the proposed drug or device is really beneficial and safe. It can be included in treatment standards, protocols, or simply a positive opinion about it as a useful product will form in the medical community. And only then does the usual sales cycle of this product begin – marketing, sales managers, tenders, contests, commercial offers. All this fun fuss with money and documents.
Therefore, the promotion of any goods and services, including IT services, applications, services, in the healthcare system is much more expensive than in any other industry. But professionals are ready to help to deal with it. If it is expensive to sell and promote your product or service in some industry, this must be somehow compensated for by the price or sales volume.
It is almost impossible to compensate with a price, since our health care is rather poor, tariffs are low, and do not contain an investment component. Therefore, it is necessary to compensate for the cost of sales and promotion with sales volumes.
That is why the healthcare market in terms of supplies of equipment, consumables, pharmaceuticals, IT solutions – everything in general – has stratified horizontally. At the top level, there are distributors who sell large volumes throughout the healthcare system. And vendors of solutions – for medical equipment, for medicines, for IT solutions – often sell their goods not directly to customers, but through distributors. In the markets for drugs and medical equipment, a division has already formed.
And on the IT market – not yet. IT companies have not gathered enough healthcare expertise to promote their or others’ solutions to doctors. Companies that produce medical information systems themselves, as a rule, work with a small group of clients, with several regions. The largest IT companies working professionally in the healthcare sector have the resources to manage three to five large projects a year.
To sum up
Therefore, if we briefly summarize the assessment of the IT market in healthcare, we can say that there is little classical IT market in healthcare – there is little demand, little supply, little money, few people, little expertise.